Showing posts from August, 2008

Belts can be lethal

See Josh's analysis of Rabbi Falk's condemnation of fashion belts here: parshablog: Does Rabbi Falk Threaten Girls Who Do Not Dress As He Would Like With Cancer?

The 15th of Ave-take 4, differing accounts and group numbers

When I started this topic, I wasn't planning on a fourth post on it. But I really would like to share the textual variations on what the women would say on the days they gathered in the vineyard.

In Mishna Taanit (4:8) only a single speech is recorded: "Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you are choosing for yourself. Don't look only at physical beauty - look rather at the family," and this is also the way the account appears in Midrach Eicha Rabba 33, though the word noy rather than yofi is used for beauty and the cross reference to "hevel hayofi" from Mishlei does not appear.

The Gemara, as presented in
identifies 3 groups who say different things, one promotes beauty, the second family, and the third -- who are ugly, and apparently without the virtue of prominent family, say to marry for the sake of Heaven and adorn them with gold.

But the Yerushalmi learns diffe…

The character of one's spouse should come upon one as a surprise -- pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be

I am paraphrasing Lady Bracknell's declaration, "An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself" in The Importance of Being Earnest. Though it was written in the 19th Century, that notion was already understood to be patently absurd, as is her other quote on the subject of engagemetns:"Long engagements give people the opprtunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which is never advisable." But lo and behold, people living in the 21st century actually promote Lady Bracknell's position.
I had meant to bring up this issue when revisiting the points made by Hanoch Teller in the talk I posted about several posts prior to this one. He declared that the Chassidic couples who meet only once or maybe twice before marrying have very successful marriages. He says that success stems from the fact that they don't k…

Nix this shidduch; handwriting doesn't pass

The previous 3 posts were devoted to the texts about and significance of the joyousness of Tu B'Av (as well as Yom Kippur). Today, instead of direct meetings, shidduchim are screened. Now, there were screenings of a sort in ancient times. For example, a prospective suitor was expected to ask his female relatives about the girl in question. They would have known from having seen in the local bathhouse whether or not there was some physical mum. But I don't think they analyzed her handwriting. Well, who would, you may be thinking.

Today I saw an ad from "The Shadchan Group: that boasts "35 years experience" and "1,000+ shidduchim on record." Here's the kicker, though: "Matching upon astrology and graphology available." I think I may have spoken to this person once. She said she checks out the horoscopes, signs, whatever it is to see if a couple is compatible. You know who else does this? Indians who follow their native religion.…

The 15th of Av take 3, Allegory & Significance

I wasn't really planning a 3 part series, but I wouldn't wish to disappoint SL.
The premise behind the work of Shir HaShirim is that the relationship of Hashem with us can be likened to the closeness achieved by husband and wife. In that vein, it makes sense that the Mishna that I quoted in the first post on this topic quoted from the verses of Shir HaShirim to connect the concept of matches and marriages with the occasion of Mattan Torah & Binyan Bais Hamikdash. So it was fitting to parallel the closeness of Hashem to His people that is manifest on Yom Kippur and by the positive things that happened on Tu B'Av with actual men and women getting matched up.

Do note, BTW, that there are no shadchanim involved in these matches. I have come across some people who rely on secondary sources for their accounts of what happened in the vineyards who claim it is a day for matchmakers. But that is not what the original texts say. It is a day when matches are made directly b…

15th of Av Take 2, or 3 types of girls

There are more lines ascribed to the girls who participate in the festivities of Tu B'av in the Talmud's account in Taanis 31a than in the Mishna cited in the previous post. It also goes into more detail about the borrowing of white dresses --who lent to whom -- and the necessity for purifying the clothes. In addition to sparing one the possibility of embarrassment by lending her a white dress when she may not own one, the fact that everyone was borrowing meant that all had to purify the dresses with a dunk in the mikvah.
The daughter of Israel go out and dance in the vineyards. Anyone who lacked a wife went there. . . . Our rabbis learned: The beautiful ones among them would say: "Raise your eyes to beauty, for a wife is only for beauty." The girls who had yichus [well established, reputable families] would say, "Raise your eyes to family, for a wife is only for children." The ugly ones among them would say, "Take what you take for the sake of H…

the 15th of Av

The last Mishnah in Taanit (4:8) is positioned so that we end on a good note rather than with the fast of Tisha B'av. It is the famous piece on Tu B'Av:

Rabban Shimon the son of Gamliel said: There were no holidays so joyous for the Jewish People as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom HaKippurim, for on those days, daughters of Yerushalayim would go out dressed in borrowed white clothing, so as not to embarrass the one who didn't have. . . And the daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards. And what would they [the women] say?
"Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you are choosing for yourself. Don't look only at physical beauty - look rather at the family - 'For charm is false, and beauty is vanity. A G-d - fearing woman is the one to be praised...' ("Mishlei"/Proverbs 31:30)
They proceed to quote further further from Eshes Chayil, and the Mishna concludes with Tanna's addition of a quote from Shir HaSh…

Views on the Shidduch Crisis

Last night I ventured out to the Agudah of W. Lawrence (aka Far Rockaway, but another Agudah already has that name) to hear Hanoch Teller speak on the topic: "Shidduchim : Reflections and Recriminations." I actually took notes but may have difficulty deciphering them, so I will write on some of the points mentioned while it is still fresh in my mind.

General suggestions to alleviate the shidduch crisis, which he evidenced by citing that there over 6000 singles in Brooklyn and over 6000 single females in Manhattan, implying that these were not in the first blush of youth. I don't know where the numbers come from. Anyway, solutions from the community were to have people get more actively involved. He said if there are chevra kaddishas and the like to serve the no longer living, there should also be groups to meet the needs of the living future. He briefly said that putting money toward the cause should work, though he didn't explain exactly how beyond paying shadc…

Thanks for the tip

You've probably heard the expression of my title, especially if you've ever watched a really old movie where the protagonist finds himself in a place where some stranger warns him about the rules of the place or the person he had better not make an enemy of. I had another interpretation in mind, though: a thank you for the tip of money given to camp staff. This is my oldest daughter's first year working at a camp. At the end of the first half she received a couple of tips. I told her she should write thank you notes to the parents who tipped her, and she did. The fact is that I do not ever recall getting a "thank you" from the counselors and such I tipped in my children's limited day camp experience, and I don't hold it against them. But I do think that a tip, though customary enough to be expected, should not be taken for granted. If parents do not tip or tip far below the "suggested amount" the camp offers, one is not within one's…

Free Food

Nahama deskisufa is the term for bread of shame. The underlying assumption of human nature is that a person does not enjoy a "free lunch" as much as one s/he has earned. That is the reason given for Hashem having created a world in which we have challenges to meet while working to amass mitzvos -- so that we can earn our schar, for if it were just given like welfare, there would be an aspect of shame that would detract from our full enjoyment of our reward.

But, the more I see of the attitude projected today, the more I believe that humans have completely eradicated this pride of earning one's own way from their being.

I quote below a very public posting that went out on my community email list. Let me preface it by saying that I perfectly understand economics and the fact that certain subsidies phase out when particular income levels are reached, which is why one can actually have a higher standard of living on welfare than working at a low-paying job, particularly whe…